Korea’s Moon vows ‘Korea space age’ after rocket test falters

23-Oct-2021 Intellasia | Reuters | 5:02 AM Print This Post

South Korea’s first domestically built space rocket blasted off on Thursday, but failed to fully place a dummy satellite into orbit, delivering mixed results for a test launch that represents a major leap for the country’s ambitious space plans.

The three-stage KSLV-II Nuri rocket, emblazoned with the national flag, rose on a column of flame from its launch pad at Naro Space centre at 5 p.m. (0800 GMT).

The Nuri, or “world”, rocket is designed to put 1.5-tonne payloads into orbit 600 to 800 km (370 to 500 miles) above Earth, as part of a broader space effort that envisages the launch of satellites for surveillance, navigation, and communications, and even lunar probes.

President Moon Jae-in, who watched the launch from the space centre, said the rocket completed its flight sequences but failed to place the test payload into orbit.

“Unfortunately, we did not fully reach our goal,” he said in a speech at the site.

Moon praised the workers and said despite the incomplete mission, the project would press ahead.

“It’s not long before we’ll be able to launch it exactly into the target trajectory,” he said according to a transcript. “The ‘Korea Space Age’ is approaching.”

Officials said the final stage of the rocket appeared to shut down 40-50 seconds early, so the payload did not reach the speed needed for its target orbit. The cause of the early shutoff was still being investigated, but it may have been a lack of pressure inside the fuel tank, a premature command from control computers, or other factors, officials said.

“Today’s launch left some disappointment, but it is significant as it was the first test of the launch vehicle independently developed with our own technology,” science and technology minister Lim Hye-sook told a briefing. “It’s meaningful to confirm that all major launch steps were carried out and we have secured core technology.”



Category: Korea

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